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Drive Fore Life making a difference

After a tragedy that stunned this community one family is doing its part to create awareness, fund research into mental illness



What do you do when your fit and popular 17-year-old son calls you on your cell phone, tells you he loves you and then hangs himself?

How do you deal with the emotions – the anger and guilt – when you had brought your son home from school to keep an eye on him and you took him to see doctors?

And when your son is gone, what do you do when you find out one of the drugs he was taking, Paxil, is now not recommended in Canada and the U.S. for teenagers, because in some cases it has "caused depressed children to become more suicidal"?

After a series of events like that parents may spend the rest of their lives trying to figure out why.

Then there’s a small group of people who find the strength to use a tragedy like that as motivation; motivation to educate and to make sure the same thing never happens to another family.

Kerry and Ginny Dennehy are these people.

The Dennehys made this choice in memory of their son, Kelty, who hanged himself on Feb. 28, 2001 despite the efforts of his family and others in the Canadian health care system to help him.

And the Dennehy’s have found a great corporate partner in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler to help them raise awareness of teen depression.

Now in its third year, the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation is holding its Drive Fore Life golf tournament on Sept. 18 and 19 at the Chateau Whistler Golf Club. The foundation is looking to build on the $750,000 they have already raised in just two and half years.

Kerry Dennehy said his goal for this event was to help reduce the social stigma of mental illness.

According to, Sarah Hamid-Balma, the Director of Public Education with the B.C. Canadian Mental Health Association, events such as the Drive Fore Life are making a big difference.

"The really basic stuff about how to manage mental illness hasn’t changed that much and we really do know a lot about what works," said Hamid-Balma.

"But it’s about getting people’s ear and letting them know, and we couldn’t do that without the people like the Dennehys."

Kerry Dennehy said many people who have suffered from mental illness had thanked him for publicly raising the issue.

"The reason why so many people suffer is because there’s a stigma of shame attached; you can break your ankle or head open, but if you’ve got something wrong inside your head there’s a terrible stigma attached," said Dennehy.

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